Today’s prime news in most TV channels and a post by blogger Tanay triggered this piece. First, the news: Bollywood productions valued at Rs.100 crores have been on hold since Sanjay Dutt was sent to jail some weeks back. And the apex court order releasing him on bail is the best news the film industry has had in weeks.
For someone convicted and sentenced under the Arms Act Sanjay is among the fortunate few who don’t need to worry about unemployment when he comes out of jail. But think of the plight of his jail mates. Real punishment for them begins when they come out of jail. Public mistrust and the stigma of having been a jail bird render them unemployable. Rehabilitation initiatives by the state and some NGOs are there; but they don’t help very many; and don’t go far enough.
Tanay’s post is about rehabilitation of another disadvantaged section of society, the physically handicapped. The blog refers to CEO of Costa Coffee Virag Joshi who has employed 10 deaf mute persons in his South Delhi outlet, after putting them through a 45-day training. Their service speaks louder than words, as an IBN reporter puts it (view video). The point is that the physically challenged, given the opportunity, are capable of delivering customer satisfaction with a high degree of professionalism.
I had occasion to visit a restaurant in San Francisco that employs ex-convicts who have served their term at the local prison. The management of the restaurant, located in an upscale residential district, has adopted it as policy to rehabilitate those released from prison. The restaurant’s convicts rehab plan is planked on the belief that jailbirds are capable of service with dedication, if given a chance by employers.
I wonder if Sanjay Dutt would consider using his celebrity status to spread the message. Maybe he could sponsor a public service ad. on TV.